Sunday, 15 September 2019

2nd and 3rd Battles at Plotnaya

At the one-day mini-convention the club put on, I decided to host an extended session of my “What a Tanker!” Russian winter end of 1941 affair.

WillB donated the use of his tanks if required as he went off to play a CoC game, so my first game had players select his 38t and one of my PzIII vs his Russian Valentine. I joined the Russians with the Lend-Lease Matilda so making it an even 2 on 2 battle.

The German instructions were to 1. control the town, 2. secure the bridge, 3. and for complete victory get one tank off the Russian side of the table.
The Russians were to 1. have the engineers (in the truck) escorted to the bridge, 2. ensure the bridge’s destruction, 3. and if possible control the town for a complete victory.

I used a numbered chip out of the bag initiative system rather than the roll off by players thereby all of them knowing the sequence.  More of a ‘unsuredness’ factor.

The truck also used the command dice but ignored all but the ‘Drive’ and ‘Wild’ dice.  The Germans ignored the truck (and the player’s did not even ask me what it was for!) but as I stopped at the bridge and had soldiers get off the truck and indicated that future ‘Wild’ dice would now indicate the engineering progress of wiring the bridge. NOW the truck was targeted and, as it had just stopped, were the explosives unloaded?  A dice roll indicated no and so a fire ball ensued!
Russian main means for the bridge's destruction go up in a fire ball

However the Germans were nonetheless getting pounded.  No outright destruction but a slow reduction of temporary command dice until the PzIII needed to be abandoned after my Matilda gained his flank within the town.  About half way through the battle, my tank was the only one with all its command dice intact.  I managed to slowly (I was driving a “slow” tank, but I do throw lots of ones!) around the backside of the town to hit the 38t in the butt.  No destruction again but the German crew again was forced to bailout so having the Russians protecting the bridge.
The Russian Lend-Lease 
taking a shot at the PzIII
and later the 38t in the rear

With the second session, a new group of players, and while leaving the terrain the same, had the orientation change 90 degrees and now three players aside.  I played German this time with a ‘fast’ 38t to make better use of all the 1s aka “Drive” dice I usually roll.

I gave up on any scenario description - players tend to forget those anyway and just blast away in any event!  I also gave up trying to gain a turn by turn description as “then that tank moved 4 inches, turning its turret and loaded a shell” is not very interesting.  So I will say that I was brewed up on turn 2 and a Russian shortly thereafter. Wow, it can happen, just not often…
I had us come in again at a random position in a couple of turns later.

My second 38t sat a few turns at the table edge, firing away ineffectually at a T-34 in the town a couple of obstructions away (meaning aiming is harder)  and l loudly declared that I uncharacteristically am not rolling the 1s I should be with a fast tank and all.  Well OF COURSE the next initiative I now roll FOUR 1s and a ‘Wild’ dice…so off I raced having the most fun racking up the inches. HOWEVER, I ran out of distance while in the middle of the town not quite having the angle to hit a Russian Valentine in the rear and now having that T-34 in my rear! Oops, bad tactics.
reversing out of trouble but into a close firing angle

But with the dice being as they are I managed to back up thereby gaining the T-34 in my sights as it had moved out from behind the building to put a shot into me but unable to fire.  I too, not able so we finally move to positions opposite a snow-covered fence.
after a few turns of maneuver now across the fence

With after an extended dinner break and near end of the session time, the game dissolved but at least we had a couple of brew ups.  Early war tanks, it was concluded, may get the 1 or 2 dice difference in strike vs armour throws to reduce the enemy’s effectiveness bit-by-bit but hard (not impossible but hard) to get the 3 dice difference with only 4 or 5 dice thrown needed for immediate kills compared to large volume of dice which are rolled in late war tanks.

But nice to finally have all the snow covered terrain and white-washed tanks on the table.

Thursday, 12 September 2019

"barbed wire" and tutorial?

I looked upon some lone “dead” sprues and noted the regularity of the tabs (the round bits that stick out from the frame). Like for use as the bases of fence posts. Very thin fence posts of course.  More like thin metal spikes really.  Well, if I use thin plastic rod, drilled in a bit to make them stronger bond, I could use wire to make “barbed wire” emplacements. Hmm.

Do I need these defences?  Not now but that lack of need has never stopped me from creating a bit of terrain piece before….so I set about.  The two sprues were divided into even frames for which I cut from hardboard 4 similar bases. The holes drilled and rods glued in.  The frames were covered in cheap self-hardening clay.  While I intended to just paint the grey clay an earthy color (aka WW1 mud and all) and just flock the edges (to blend it into the tabletop), the cheap stuff cracked a lot so I was forced to put on a glue layer to prevent more cracking later and cover these crevices with flocking.

showing progression from top to bottom finished terrain piece. 

My wiring quickly had the rods snap off as they were unequal to the strain of the looping.  So much for that idea.  But then I remembered purchasing some flexible “barbed” wire at the LFGS.  
I decided upon a diameter based on a 28mm figure and made tight curls using a lip balm container (!)  which had the correct measurement.

I placed the curls carefully over the rods (painted a metal color) but had not the need to attach. They lay there and could be employed for other tasks if needed.

I suppose I should really paint the wire a steel or metal color and add rust effects for 'realism' but the shiny wire has the new and dangerous look to it!

… of course now I am thinking to scrounge around for more dead sprues - of appropriate requirements - to create more of these defensive positions.

Sunday, 25 August 2019

WaT Wreck Obstruction

While I prefer the wide open spaces of the Russian Steppe to conduct a game of What a Tanker - more bang, less messing about - an occasional bit of ‘obstruction’ is not amiss.  I do have fences and trees and the usual terrain, but to keep a different look and a bit of 'eye-candy', I created an old “wrecked tank”.
It was much a "hmm, what can I do with this?" idea swiftly made after I had torn all the supports from the 3D print tanks I was provided. Necessary for the print construction, these bits are usually tossed as unusable scraps but my ‘cheapy wargamer brain” thought that, with a large degree of “wargamer squint”, it kinda would work especially with a liberal covering of 'snow'.
 The base square edged hopefully makes any LOS easier to adjudicate.

If Napoleon and Wellington ever tweeted:
In an internet cafe somewhere near Hougomont, 18th June, 1815.....
Capt. Mercer noticing Wellington looking over his shoulder. "The Ogre is online, permission to give him a scathing comment?"
Wellington:  "Certainly not!  Generals have better things to do than to bad tweet each other!"

Friday, 23 August 2019

Winter WaT add ons

Richard Clarke and Nick Skinner of the Two Fat Lardies must do a lot of moaning when wargamers want to stretch a perfectly fine set of rules to add yet more onto them.  With that I have already seen examples by others the use of panzerfaust and bazooka armed infantry.  Of course I will add the use of AT guns into the mix (if they haven't been already as they are a natural add-on.  Basically a gun without the armor and the immediate ability to move!

As I am doing the Battle of Moscow with the Russians defending, and if we have too many German tanks or players wanting to play the baddies, I have constructed a AT gun emplacement as a means to even things out...or make them interesting....

foam core and wood dowel construction

the inspiration from an advert in one of the 'glossies' 
With "weathering" added.  More like a very heavy frost than snow.

the gun is the inside tube of an ballpoint pen
The two extra logs on the top add to the hasty construction look of the emplacement but actually serve as arc markers showing 60 degrees from the rear barrel of the gun.

The rear showing the gun struts stuck into the foam core interior. Thin pieces of styrene are bent and glued to the ends of rod to simulate the AT gun.
Glue infused paper is used to hide the lack of an actual gun model.  Beads are used as shell casings. Pieces of balsa wood are ammo boxes. Obviously the boys have the blankets down in an attempt to stay warm....

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Historical battle of Vitoria game

"hey wait for us!" Action from the game.  (Prussian artillery follows the advance of von Hill). 

I host an annual ‘Big Napoleonic Mystery Battle” each summer and invite the regular players of our developing rules of GdC for an all day affair.  I am always pleased that James and Ron from Oregon make the long 250km trek to join me along with DaveB from the Island (also a bit of a trek with the ferry and all) to come to Surrey BC, Canada to participate in my ‘mystery’ historical battle. Unfortunately SethT of Seattle had pressing work commitments and had to bow out shortly before the date.   I kept the scenario in the realm of Napoleonics this time with the Battle of Vitoria, Spain, 1813 but using my Prussians and Russian in lieu of the British, Portuguese and Spanish of Wellington’s army.

Couple of the locals, ChrisP and KevinA took Dalhousie/Picton’s command and D’Erlon’s French together with Joseph’s small “Royal” contingents ,respectively.   The French commands of Gazan and Reille would be DaveB’s.  He is experienced enough to handle these important forces.  James and Ron decided to stay on the same side (so able to trade the war stories on the ride home!) and thus took Colesky (the historical Gen. Cole but as we were using his own Russians….) and Ron, the Prussians under “von Hill” (obviously the British General Hill).  This left Graham and his Russians ‘Grahamsky’ under my usual dubious command.
Colesky moving across the bridge while to the left, von Hill's forces advance between the river and the heights near Subijana.  Gazan's French are doing rear guard action while the majority of that force is already turned about for the withdrawal at Arinez.

The deployments and numbers were kept as historical as possible.  Thus Cole and Hill came in from the east end of the table to try to pin the French while Dalhousie/Picton “von Pikton” came over the eastern most of the northern crossings of the Zadorra River.  Graham, “Grahamsky” , was to take the furthest of the crossings to trap the French in the valley from their escape route to the east.

Unlike the French command in 1813,  the French of the game, looked at the table and concluded the trap was on and proceeded to set up for an immediate general retreat eastward only restricted by my scenario deployments.
Ron and James contemplate the situation. The pressures of High Command!
The height of the battle with the French defence of the "central hill" collapsing.

Despite some initial set-backs, the Allies of James and Ron, aggressively pursued the French forcing them to make a concerted stand near Chrispijana.  ChrisP added his numbers to the attack on this position. The French needed to slow the Allied advance all the while retreating elements east before the door would close from Graham’s force.  Perhaps luckily for the French, I was commanding Graham and, like the historic commander, I could only slowly deploy my forces against the French LOC to Pamplona toward the north east corner of the battlefield. However with the French unable to do much than cover Graham with artillery from coming directly via the Gammara Mayor crossing,  Graham committed forces spread out to the further crossing at Durana but with that, completely cutting off that route to the French retreaters (as was done historically).
....meanwhile in the east, Grahamsky's forces are met with accurate artillery from across the river and Reille's forces crossing the river.  While the town fight for Gamorra Mayor did not occur in the game, DaveB did accomplish much like Reille did to delay Graham's "closing of the door" in the actual battle
While I did much the poor effort that Graham did in 1813, I did manage to block the main retreat road of the French which was enough. Photo of the lead Russian light cavalry.  Infantry and artillery support would follow.

The final turn had us play 20 turns (some 10 hours of battle which started late in the morning real time in 1813) The famous looting of Joseph’s wagons and treasures gathered from all of Spain was not completed however as the French (the wagons under the command of KevinA’s “Joseph’s Spainish Royal” contingent)  were driven away just in front of the pursuing Allies, thereby giving the French some small argument that it was only a minor Allied victory….
But despite the lack of the wagons capture, the battle went basically to historic form with the French to be shortly expelled from Spain.

James playing “Colesky” (the historical command of the British General Cole) provides the following AAR of the action:
“ I thought the Allies would be the aggressors to kick things off, with Colesky coming across the western bridge and von Hill having sneaked up on the dastardly French from the south end of the hills. We should have easily pushed through the French defense, even with Picton dallying around (waiting for double evens(*), which came the 2nd turn!). Colesky made the decision to forgo splitting his command and making use of the hidden ford(^) to maintain a firmer control of his troops as the PiP cost of moving some elements out of command would have impacted the command’s ability to move forward.
James' own Pavlograd Hussars leading the assault

 Gazan surprised us by going on the offensive. The French cavalry stymied our movement, forcing us to deal with them and allowing for a retreat behind the hills east of Ariñez and what looked to be a full-on withdrawal. Gazan was able to check the allied thrust for four turns, causing a loss of both horse artillery bases and making Colesky rethink things (by forcing a moral check which caused a fallback result). Picton was making his presence felt crossing the Zaddora. 

Having absorbed the initial French push, Colesky and von Pikton began their push. In a bit of combined arms, the Pavlograd Hussars forced a French infantry element into square which was subsequently assaulted and destroyed by some Russian infantry. Ariñez was taken the following turn and the race was on, as the three Allied commands began pushing eastward. Picton began taking substantial fire from d’Erlon. Von Pikton screened Chrispijana and advanced as well. Grahamsky decided to show up and began blocking the main retreat line of the French. 

Gazan and d’Erlon massed behind the central hill and at this point, it could have gone either way. The Allies amasses on the opposite side, but the loss of Colesky’s foot artillery (I’m sensing a theme...) caused another fallback. Von Pikton, after a whiff of grape removed the last of the French cavalry, pushed forward and forced Gazan to rout. Colesky finished off Gazan with another feat of combined arms. Grahamsky stubbornly denied the line of retreat. As night fell, the French were in retreat and the Allies the controllers the field. “

(*Note): This was the scenario trying to simulate Dalhousie’s cautious approach. Eventually the historical Picton would be so frustrated and take things into his own hands and order his division into the action (for which I committed the entire force).  ChrisP, being his usual lucky self, achieved the rather difficult dice in a very short time and so went to the attack quickly.
(^Note):  The ford, the location of which was not disclosed to the French, was the one Kempt and his Light Division used upon being advised by a local Spanish peasant. In future, Cole will be given the option to use some of his force for this purpose without hindrance of that distant command for his PiP amount for a historical scenario design.
James's own Russians...looking good in their attack

Sunday, 11 August 2019

The big battle style....

The previous post had a 6mm big battle which each element was brigade strength.  My Napoleonic rules employ a similar ratio but using 28mm figures (but obviously fewer of them for the ‘footprint’!)
Here are some pictures of a Waterloo refight done a while back.  The area of this game would be but a square foot or two on Kevin’s table, but I assume (due to being a historical refight) all the fun maneuvering has already been done (all the corps been committed to one area of the countryside or the other like Grouchy and Gerard's) and the true tactical fighting is to begin……
Looking from the north-east 
the view Napoleon might have witnessed
and that of Wellington

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Mini Gettysburg - Day 1

The monthly ClubNight had KevinA, the Micro King, put on his “three-day Gettysburg in an evening” game.  Spoiler: it only went to the end of the first day, but it was an interesting game.

We, the all knowing gods, could indeed see all the 14 by 11 miles of the field of battle and surrounding territory but still with the long distances the troops could travel in a turn (some four hours game time) things moved quickly and so kept the mysteries alive.  I didn’t quite know in which direction the Union troops would take and that was mirrored in my own decision for the entry of Longstreet’s corps, the third and last to arrive.  Go north and reinforce Hill and meet the onslaught of the masses of Union troops arriving in a couple of turns, or go slowly across country to mass against the isolated Union corps on this side of the the Round Top ridge line?  After some internal deliberation, I choose the latter.  The pressures of higher command!

After setting up the classic - pin the front, threaten the flank, and finally “hit the hinge” maneuver - so loved by Napoleon, my dice (and the Union commander ChrisP’s good dice) failed me. All five attacks failed and my forces were pushed back and bloodied.  The main attack I set up on the hinge unit itself had my 12 dice to the Union’s 5 only to have me to roll 40% success to the Union’s 80%! Ugh.  Did Napoleon have to endure that?!

Thus ended Day 1 and the game unfortunately as time ran out.  While not really feasible in only four hours, with experienced players with the rules, and a full day to play, yes, Gettysburg could be done.  The rules were  “Bonnie Blue Flag” HEAVILY adapted by KevinA.  Diced for command points use is crucial.  Combat dicey but simple.

The overall look and feel was good.  I like the 6mm for the grand tactical effect. Each stand represents a brigade of some 2500 men.  The long ‘operational moves’ (infantry stands could move up to 12 inches off road and 18inches (!) on road) meant corps would be quick to be placed in the battle but real thought would be to where, as once in battle that is really where they would remain and die.

yes, a board game could do the same, but it would not have the visual 3D look now would it?
Buford's cavalry before the Lutheran Seminary.  Their commander choose not to fight there and retreated to the hills beyond Gettysburg thereby changing the game from a historical to a what-if.  
Union has the darker blue labels, the Rebs the whiter ones. The player commanding Hill's corps departed suddenly so I was left with what he had done.  Like Robbie Lee trying to make sense of what was what when he arrived on the battlefield I suppose.....
The red beads represent disorder. Note my Rebs have a lot of them, and lots of hits too... The infamous "hinge" was near the location of the blue die and marks the high point of Confederacy in this game!

Saturday, 3 August 2019

Medieval ‘LR’ clash

With a slow rotation of games (telling me I have way too many armies/eras/‘projects’ already) we tend to forget the rules and spend quite a bit of the game asking ourselves “what happens now? The rule is?”

Trying to keep fresh on the Lion Rampant rules, I invited the guys over for a simple ‘refresher’ game.  Not knowing the numbers of fellows I placed down terrain, said “you English over there, we French over here”, gave out personal objects randomly (I was the only one who gave THAT any thought) and went at it.  No planning or battle strategy.  Very medieval that.

The only real innovation came with my introduction of a deck of playing cards for initiative.  As we had four players, each player was assigned a card suit from the deck.  With each card of that suit drawn the player then could try to activate any of his units.  If fail or activated, a marker is placed indicating that unit is done.  Eventually, all the players units would have been used. Once that happens, all the markers are removed and should his suit card be drawn he once again can nominate any of the un-activated units to be diced for.  Once the deck has been used up all players would have had an equal number of activations.  Not necessarily on a consistent basis, but eventually at the end.  We did have one player have five of his cards come up in a row (!) thus he was able to try to activate all his units one-after-another with one of the units doing this twice but with only 13 draws per player, it eventually evens out.
With this, rather than the I-go-you-go or heaven forbid the one fail you're out (per original rules), it creates more action and natural flow of the play.  Of course this can be for any game to get away from predictable player sequence.  Anyway it was agreed it did help with the play.

Pictures of the game.  All figures are mine and painted by moi.  (I was using my newly painted Dunkerque liveried types - in yellow and white with the bright blue dolphin and black on yellow shields)  Historically note: Dunkirk/Dunkerque was not actually French but Flemish during this time of c.1350 - the time of the Battle of Crecy and the armour styles portrayed on the figures. D’oh.  Didn't discover that tidbit until after painting them. Let’s over look that historical inaccuracy shall we…..
Dunkerque mixed yeomen militia (sheep optional)
massed English archers
Having achieved my 'personal objective' by burning the farmhouse, the yeomen will enter the battle.  The 'shield' 'marker indicating that unit has rolled for activation and cannot be chosen until after all the players units have done so.
Apparently this lad wanted to make sure the flames got it all.
my new straw fences using real pine fir needles! ....and lots of glue...
and yet more English archers behind stone fences.  The French really could not win this battle/game.

Saturday, 13 July 2019

Postnaya Bridge 1941 WaT game

Having winter terrain (my Retreat from Moscow game) and Russian early war tanks models, I thought that I might be tempted to do the ‘frozen gates of Moscow’ Nov-Dec.,1941and do WaT with a winter style.

I invited a bunch of the guys over with tank models to have a go at these clear rules. After a quite a long discussion over sizing (who knew that the difference between 1:48 and 1:56 could be so much!) and it was determined that my KV-1A model was 1:48 scale and so we went with that.  Jim brought his Matilda II, in jungle dark green(!); ChrisP brought a Stuart (a lend-lease not offered until 1942 so we cheated a bit there and he was reluctant to apply a whitewash over a rather bright green color-scheme.  I used the big KV-1a along with the truck full of engineers and explosives for the scenario.

On the German side, Gord grabbed one of Bill’s numerous builds, the non-white-washed 38, while Bill used the other with an artistic whitewash motif.  Clayton used my T-34 with German markings as the third tank.  The points were even for each side with 3 tanks aside.
The Germans move into the town 

The Russians were trying to blow the critical bridge before the Germans foremost troop of armour could control it and the town.  Lots of manoeuvring and die rolling in this game but the Germans got to the town first and concealed themselves well, awaiting the Russian advance.  The Russians need the engineers to blow the bridge; but as we can see, it was not to be, so Jim and his Matilda had to destroy it with shot.  Chris’  Stuart tank, we nicknamed “Stewie” was unfortunately brewed near the end of the game, the only casualty.
Germans position themselves.  The t-34(r) is holding the right flank (top)

But the bridge’s destruction was after Bill, in a rather bold move - either silly or a brilliant tactical maneuver depending upon result - used a fist full of Drive Dice to move out of the town, over the bridge and move swiftly around to the flank of the slow turreted KV in order to destroy the truck from behind its KV protector.  Russian panic enthused with my dice rolling slowly spinning the KV around with slow turret movement while the truck [we gave it command dice for movement only - for those knowing the rules the Drive Dice and Wild Dice as usual and with the Acquire Dice convertible to a Drive Dice but only if on the road.  All other Command Dice were ignored] needed to go off road to get away from the rampaging German tank.  While with all this slow motion maneuvering (I was rolling low for movement inches) it managed to block the line of site of the KV to its attacker which did not help.  Bill was relieved to have survived the Russian beast and promptly blew up the truck and the engineers and all their explosives within.
Bill's small but fast 38 vs my lumbering KV1a.  The Lorry driver is attempting to move away off-road but the tires are obviously slipping in the mud;  at least that is what the very low dice rolls suggest!
..then the truck finally can move down the road next turn only to move slow enough to block the KV's line of sight!
...and pays the price.   The lorry is a MDF from Warbases and I bought just for fun.  I added a 'canvas' cover (a large bluejeans clothing label of all things!) and realized I could add it to the collection. It looks the part of a 1930's design Russian truck of the early war with a wargamer's squint.

The KV, without the need to protect the truck, and too slow to engage the fast 38, lumbered forward to engage its original target of Clayton’s T-34(r).  We extended the game another turn as the destruction of that tank would not allow the Germans to maintain their scenario conditions.  However, no further effects were made and both sides had achieved minor victories.  I hope the boys enjoyed the play on the white cloth of Russia....

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Happy Waterloo Day

To everyone,
Happy Waterloo Day!!
the two hundred and third edition.....

a photo from the perhaps ninth game (!) of the Battle of Waterloo (1815) with deployments per the historical example on a element = brigade level. Very hard for Napoleon to win in any event.  In all those games (and most had excluded or reduced the Prussian involvement) only once did the Allies lose and only because the "Picton" player did a very foolish thing and charge over the ridge and into the grand battery AND again the Prussians did not arrive.  While a French victory it still could have gone either way; so hard one for the French to be victorious.
my 28mm Napoleonics - mostly Perry Miniatures

Anyway the 'Battle of La Belle Alliance' (as it SHOULD be known but Wellington was, of course, SO obnoxiously British....) is always a favourite to play.